Hazardous to High-Tech: Drones for Enhanced Transmission Line Inspection

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High-voltage electrical power lines supply energy to commercial, industrial, and residential consumers.

As such, the continuous and safe operation of these lines is essential for both economic growth and social well-being. This makes their maintenance critical—not to mention that regular inspections are also mandated by law. However, transmission line inspection poses severe occupational hazards. Companies are thus turning to new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to improve monitoring while keeping workers safe.

Electrical power line inspection is a high-risk activity. Each year sees dozens of fatal work injuries for line installers and repairers, along with thousands more non-fatal injuries. Further, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it regularly ranks among the top ten occupations with the highest rate of fatal work injury. In some cases, workers have fallen to their deaths after touching an energized line, while in others the electric shock itself is fatal.

Transmission line workers also take around three times as many days off work from injuries compared with other jobs. These incidents tend to be serious and include punctures, lacerations, and multiple trauma injuries. Therefore, it’s vital to find ways of keeping people away from the lines as much as possible—while also maintaining or improving inspection quality.

SkyX UAVs accomplish just that. Now you can carry out transmission line inspection with greater precision and speed, at lower cost, and—above all—without endangering human lives. This exciting solution is revolutionizing occupational safety for electrical transmission as well as other use cases.

Two engineers on a transmission line inspection.
Source: Shutterstock

Risks Associated With Transmission Line Inspection

Transmission line inspection is frequently dangerous and associated with several critical work-related risks. The most obvious of these is electrocution, but falls as well as traffic accidents and other incidents also constitute a threat. Outcomes range from time off work to debilitating injuries and even death.

In addition to personal health hazards, in-person inspections cost a lot of time and money. Activities such as rolling out trucks or flying manned aircraft can be quite involved and complex. This further limits how often you can afford to inspect transmission lines.

Another constraint is access to the lines themselves. For instance, a truck can’t drive through private property or over rough terrain to reach transmission lines. With traditional methods, there are also environmental drawbacks like the pollution from running gas-guzzling trucks or helicopters.

Fortunately, the new aerial technology used by SkyX’s UAVs can address these issues. Remote asset monitoring with hyper-efficient flying devices simply removes humans from harm’s way. These robotic drones cover more distance in less time—and for less money. They fly over obstructions and inaccessible areas with impunity. And because they’re electric, they don’t give off emissions or produce loud noises.

The Dangers of Poorly Maintained Transmission Lines

Without the necessary upkeep, power lines lose efficiency and become unsafe. For example, inadequately maintained transmission lines may be subject to electrical disruptions, fires, and other complications. The fallout affects the environment as well as your company’s reputation.

Routine maintenance and transmission line inspection can isolate problems ahead of time. Then it’s a fairly straightforward matter to stop costs from spinning out of control. Keep the current flowing and extend the lives of power lines—or you’ll face repairs more expensive than the maintenance itself would’ve been.

One can find a parallel in oil and gas pipeline maintenance. Proactive monitoring identifies hazards before they cause failures. The same aerial technology from SkyX that automatically inspects pipelines can also enhance transmission line inspection. Regular overflights capture detailed imagery that artificial intelligence then processes into actionable insights.

The top-quality information that aerial technology provides on your power lines (or pipelines) is far more effective in maintaining them than conventional methods. Risks become manageable and the network avoids serious economic or environmental damage.

Are Drones the Key to Safer Transmission Line Inspection and Maintenance?

Aerial drones, or UAVs, conduct transmission line inspection by flying above the infrastructure in an unmanned vehicle. Although humans don’t fly drones directly, they do help with the piloting and data handling from a safe location. The end result is being able to perform more precise and consistent imaging—all without the attendant risks.

Unmanned aerial vehicles can detect power infrastructure snags such as rusty, damaged, or missing components. Furthermore, they’ll pick up foreign objects in transmission towers—like kites or birds’ nests—and identify any flaws in electrical cabling or insulation. The system also recognizes areas of abnormal temperatures in the line, thus localizing cable damage.

UAVs from SkyX use industry-leading technology to record regularly timed overlapping images. The data undergoes advanced processing to combine raw images with thermal images and thorough analysis. As a result, you get actionable insights through a convenient interface.

The SkyVision platform supplies survey-grade visual data you can rely on. It simplifies the identification of any objects interfering with your right of way—and provides alerts for encroaching vegetation or line sag. Automatic object classification helps with asset inventory. Furthermore, you can examine infrastructure after a storm for damage.

Moreover, the safety improvements from aerial data also serve to improve regulatory compliance. Thanks to fast and accurate transmission line inspection, you’ll mitigate potential dangers and be able to offer evidence of adequate maintenance.

It’s safer and easier to use UAVs for transmission line inspection. And in terms of cost and quality, the technical advantages of drones drive better outcomes than previous methods. Upgrading to aerial tech is thus one of the best ways for companies to improve their maintenance processes.

Make Transmission Line Inspection Safe with SkyX

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As much as industry and individuals depend on electricity, transmission line inspection has been a risky affair—until now. Unmanned aerial vehicles from SkyX conduct such inspections remotely. Humans can thus do their work without the threat of electric shocks, fire, falls, and other hazards.

SkyX’s comprehensive service includes operating UAVs and processing aerial data. It’s as easy as naming the locations to scan, and you’ll receive unequaled insights from the sky. Alerts complement the database, which you can also connect to geographic information system (GIS) applications. The SkyVision portal presents everything you need to monitor and protect the lines.

Book a demo now to see how aerial data makes transmission line inspection safer and more efficient.

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